Pineapple upside-down cake? Sure it must count as one of your five a day

Tinned pineapple doesn’t turn up in many recipes these days. This one’s a retro classic

A mouthwatering offering to grace any table. Photograph: Harry Weir

A mouthwatering offering to grace any table. Photograph: Harry Weir

 

We all have to make an effort to eat our five a day. It may be pushing it a bit to suggest that a tin of fruit counts, but at least having a few tins in my cupboard assures me that I’ll never be stuck for a dessert.

Sadly out of fashion, a tin of pineapple can be a godsend, especially if you have limited kitchen facilities. In warmer months the fruit bowl needs to be turned over more regularly, and a tin of pineapple can be added to freshly chopped fruit to make a quick fruit salad for dessert and is great with breakfast cereal.

I have many other retro uses for tinned pineapple. For a salad I mix diced peppers, fresh herbs and pineapple through rice; it is very refreshing served chilled on a hot day. In the final school term, when the kids dread yet another ham-and-cheese sandwich, I jazz up their snack with pineapple and a smear of ketchup – which, when grilled, creates a surprisingly tasty toastie. (We were introduced to this “toast Hawaii” by a Swiss au pair.) And who wouldn’t love a vegan-friendly pina colada, made by blitzing pineapple with coconut milk and rum? It’s a family-friendly smoothie if you leave out the alcohol.

Apart from the use of chopped tinned pineapple to moisten carrot and fruit cakes, you won’t find many recipes containing pineapple in today’s cookbooks. The exception is the much-loved pineapple upside-down cake. It’s a classic, and a delicious family dessert. Make it in any size tin – even a muffin tin, where you can press half a pineapple slice into each hollow before filling with batter. Some people insist on placing a glace cherry in the centre of each pineapple ring. A sprinkle of cinnamon is nice too.

Pineapple upside-down cake

Serves 4

Ingredients for cake
125g butter, softened
125g soft brown sugar
3 eggs, lightly whisked
1tsp vanilla essence
125g plain flour
1 level tbsp baking powder
pinch salt

For the caramelised top
40g butter
3tbsp demerara sugar (or soft brown sugar)
400g tin pineapple slices, drained (reserve juice)

For a pineapple salsa (optional)
Leftover pineapple and reserved juice
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick

To serve
150ml whipped cream

Method
Preheat a fan oven to 180 Celsius. Grease and line a standard square baking tin with parchment paper.

With an electric whisk, cream the butter and soft brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla essence. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, then mix them into your bowl of butter, sugar and eggs to give a smooth batter.

Put the 40g of butter and three tablespoons of demerara sugar in the lined tin and put the tin in the oven until they have melted together. Then remove the tin from the oven and put four pineapple slices over the buttery base. Spoon the batter evenly over the 4 pineapple slices.

Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 40 minutes, to give a nice crisp base. (Place on a baking sheet for extra caramelisation.) Leave to sit in the tin for give minutes before inverting the cake.

To make the optional pineapple salsa, cut any remaining pineapple slices into small dice and put in a bowl. In a small saucepan bring the remaining juice from the tin of pineapple to the boil with the cinnamon stick and star anise, then pour the syrup over the diced pineapple.

Serve the cake warm, with freshly whipped cream and, if you’re using it, the salsa.

Variation
If you would like to make this with a fresh pineapple, be sure to buy a nice ripe one. When I buy a pineapple I check if I can pull a leaf out of the top plume easily. If I can then the pineapple is ripe. To use it, top, tail and peel the pineapple, then slice it into wheels, removing any core.

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